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FCC Asks for Comments About a New FM Station Class

Rosenworcel and Saurer suggested that C4 proponents file a new petition

We don’t know yet if the Federal Communications Commission will look favorably on Carl Haynes’ request that it create a new FM station class, which we told you about last week. But the agency hasn’t dilly dallied. It has announced that it is taking public comment on the proposal.

And it turns out that the idea for the petition was prompted in part by none other than the chairwoman and the head of the Media Bureau.

Earlier this month, Haynes of Commander Communications Corp. and Matthew Wesolowski of SSR Communications met for an hour at FCC headquarters with Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, Media Bureau Chief Holly Saurer, Media and Legal Advisor David Strickland and other staff from the Audio Division. Haynes and Wesolowski summarized the meeting in an ex parte filing.

For years, Wesolowski has advocated for a new type of FM class called C4, and Haynes has backed that idea, without success to date. In their meeting with the FCC brass in early June, the broadcasters first asked the commission to approve just part of the earlier C4 proposal, creating a new Zone II 12 kW “FM Class C4” allotment type. They suggested that the FCC dismiss another part, which would have created a “short-spacing” conference procedure for licensees operating Section 73.207 facilities that have been “underbuilt” for a 10-year period.

According to the filing, Saurer and Rosenworcel suggested that after reading through the record on the original proceeding, “it would be best for the proposal’s original petitioners to file a new petition simply seeking a new station class without any associated proposals.”

That led Haynes to submit his petition for rulemaking (read it here). Eligible licensees and permittees would be able to build facilities of 10,000 watts effective radiated power from an antenna height above average terrain of 100 meters. The proposal suggests amendments to the facilities requirements and minimum distance separation requirements to accommodate the new class.

When they met with the FCC, Haynes and Wesolowski also presented an analysis by REC Networks, which found that only a handful of low-power FM stations would be affected by the creation of a Class C4. Michelle Bradley of REC told Radio World she is building programs for the proposed A10 to obtain numbers on Class A upgradability and the impact on LPFM.

“A key note about the new petition is that the previous 73.215 proposal that considered other non-73.215 stations at actual facilities instead of class maximum facilities is off the table,” Bradley told RW. “This was the part of the C4 petition that I was adamantly against, so was the NAB.”

Bradley supports a new class only if the FCC does it in conjunction with the establishment of a new LP250 class for the LPFM service. No mention of LPFM is made in the A10 proposal or the FCC’s call for comments.

Comments can be filed via the FCC’s online filing system. Refer to MB Docket No. 24-183. Comments are due July 22, with replies due Aug. 21.

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